Española Takes Down Los Alamos For Second District Win

by Staff Reporter / Oct 11, 2017 / comments
Española’s Cheyanne Martinez hits against Los Alamos. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

Española Takes Down Los Alamos For Second District Win

By George Morse Sports and Outdoors

The Española Valley High School volleyball team continued its resurgence in district play with a hard fought 19-25, 25-21, 25-21, 21-25, 17-15 victory over Los Alamos High School Oct. 7 at Española.

Back on Sept. 28, the Lady Sundevils were just 4-6 on the season and 0-1 in District 2-5A after losing three straight matches. With the victory over Los Alamos, Española is now 2-1 in District 2-5A and has evened its season record at 6-6.

It took a nail-biting fifth set, played to 15 points (winner must win by two points), before Española could put away the Lady Hilltoppers. Española can thank the strong arm of Dulce Maldonado for helping the Lady Sundevils pull out the victory.

Española’s Dulce Maidonado passes the ball to her setter against Los Alamos. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

With the score tied 13-13 in the fifth set, Maldonado slammed down one of her 25 kills to give Española set and match point. Los Alamos came back to tie the score on a tip at the net. Another kill by Maldonado put the Lady Sundevils back in front by a point 15-14. Los Alamos answered with a kill to even the score once more.

Española’s Dulce Maldonado had 25 kills against Los Alamos. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post

The next point featured a long rally.  Both teams came up with miraculous digs and hard hits. As the point went on, the tension grew. Maldonado put an end to the drama with her 25th and final kill to give Española a 16-15 lead. Once again, the Lady Sundevils were at set and match point.

“On those long-rally points, it’s all about who wants that point,” Maldonado said. “Who goes for it and puts it down.”

The Sundevills would not have Maldonado available to hit from the front row, as she rotated back to take her turn at the service line. Maldonado promptly stroked a service ace that gave the Sundevils the victory.

“I said, ‘Just one more point and finish it,’” Maldonado said. “I went back there and just swing. It wasn’t any time to be nervous.”

Española had to overcome the adversity of losing one of their key players in the first set. Outside hitter Chloe Fell suffered an ankle injury and had to leave the game. The Lady Hilltoppers took the first set.

‘She’s one of our main players,” Española Coach Damon Salazar said. “Great passer, hitter.”

That meant that other players would have to step up.

“We had a junior varsity player, a freshman (Kianna Duran) at middle blocker,” Coach Salazar said. “We used her in three games. She did a great job.”

Andrea Perea stepped up and contributed 14 kills and six digs while moving between outside hitter and middle blocker.

“It was difficult,” Fell said, watching from the sidelines. “It was pretty amazing watching them. They fought a lot harder.”

The Sundevils won the next two sets. Los Alamos rallied in the fourth set, helped by four service errors by Española.

“They (Los Alamos) got their tip game going,” Coach Salazar said.

In the fifth set, another player stepped up.

“Dominique Archuleta,” Coach Salazar said. “She got three balls to our setter. She may not look tough. I’m really proud of her.”

In the crucial fifth set, Los Alamos took an early advantage. Trailing 6-5, the Lady Hilltoppers took advantage of an Española service error to forge a 9-6 lead. Española came back to tie the score 9-9 after an ace by Meranda Romero. The action was back-and-forth after that before Maldonado took over late in the fifth set.

Fell will be sidelined for awhile, but it is expected that she’ll be back in action in about a week.

“I really don’t like not playing,” she said.

Española faces Del Norte High School in its next District 2-5A game Wednesday (10/11) in Albuquerque.

Española’s Autumn Martinez goes for a kill against Los Alamos. Photo by George Morse for the Valley Daily Post